Still watching for a potential early-season Atlantic subtropical storm

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 7:10 PM GMT on May 16, 2009

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The latest 00Z and 12Z runs of the GFS, UKMET, NOGAPS, and ECMWF global dynamical computer models continue to indicate the possibility of an early season subtropical storm forming in the Gulf of Mexico 3 - 7 days from now. A modest area of low shear air is expected to open up between the polar jet stream to the north and the subtropical jet stream to the south, between Cuba and the northern Gulf of Mexico. The models have not been consistent with the timing or the size of this low shear area, and I wouldn't be surprised to see them back off again from this forecast with Sunday's set of runs. Nevertheless, I'll call once again for a 10% chance of development of a subtropical depression in the eastern Gulf of Mexico, 4 - 7 days from now. There isn't much of a disturbance at present to look at--there are some scattered showers between Cuba and Jamaica, but they are under a hefty 30 knots of wind shear. These showers should gradually increase in intensity and areal coverage over the next two days, and phase space diagrams from Florida State University indicate that an extratropical low may form near the western tip of Cuba 2 - 3 days from now. The storm may then gradually transition to a subtropical or tropical system later in the week, if the shear is low enough. Even if the shear is high and the storm remains extratropical, it could be a substantial rain-maker where it comes ashore. The models target the northern Gulf Coast between Louisiana and the Florida Panhandle as the most likely landfall location, but it is too early to place any confidence in this track.

There is also about a 10% chance a subtropical storm may form in the mid-Atlantic a few hundred miles east of Bermuda. There, a large upper-level cold low has cut off from the jet stream, and it may spin in place long enough over the next week to develop a warm core and be classified as a subtropical storm. It is unlikely that a subtropical storm forming that far out in the Atlantic this early in the year would pose a threat to any land areas, with the possible exception of Bermuda.

Climatology of early-season Atlantic tropical cyclones
Tropical storms are uncommon in the Atlantic before June 1, with only 26 named storms on record between 1851 - 2008. Five of these have made it to hurricane strength, and only one--Hurricane Able of 1951--made it to major hurricane status. Last year's Tropical Storm Arthur may be the deadliest May tropical cyclone on record. Though only a 40 mph tropical storm at landfall, Arthur killed five people in Belize and caused $78 million in damage. Three early-season storms have brought hurricane-force winds to land. The March 1908 hurricane swept through the northern Lesser Antilles Islands as a Category 1 or 2 hurricane, destroying at least 24 boats and causing damage to buildings on St. Bartholomew. Hurricane Able of 1951 brought sustained winds of 90 - 95 mph to the northern Bahama Islands, but caused little damage. Hurricane 2 of May 1908 hit North Carolina's Outer Banks as a Category 1 hurricane, but also caused little damage.


Figure 1. Tracking map for the earliest hurricane to make landfall, the March 1908 hurricane in the northern Lesser Antilles Islands.

List of all early season (formed in January - May) Atlantic named storms
May 31, 2008: Tropical Storm Arthur
May 6, 2007: Subtropical Storm Andrea
April 18, 2003: Tropical Storm Ana
April 21, 1992: Subtropical Storm 1
May 6, 1981: Tropical Storm Arlene
January 18, 1978: Subtropical Storm 1
May 21, 1976: Subtropical Storm 1
May 23, 1972: Subtropical Storm Alpha
May 17, 1970: Hurricane Alma (Category 1)
May 28, 1959: Tropical Storm Arlene
February 2, 1953: Tropical Storm Alice
May 25, 1952: Tropical Storm 1
May 15, 1951: Hurricane Able (Category 3)
May 22, 1948: Tropical Storm 1
May 19, 1940: Tropical Storm 1
May 27, 1934: Tropical Storm 1
May 14, 1933: Tropical Storm 1
May 5, 1932: Tropical Storm 1
May 13, 1916: Tropical Storm 1
May 24, 1908: Hurricane 2 (Category 1)
March 6, 1908: Hurricane 1 (Category 2)
May 27, 1890: Tropical Storm 1
May 16, 1889: Hurricane 1 (Category 1)
May 17, 1887: Tropical Storm 2
May 15, 1887: Tropical Storm 1
May 30, 1865: Tropical Storm 1

I'll have an update Sunday.

Jeff Masters

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637. Littleninjagrl
12:55 AM GMT on May 17, 2009
RMM..that's what I'm worried about. Tampa always misses out on the good stuff lol.
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635. Patrap
12:54 AM GMT on May 17, 2009

..Just do yer Best, In everything you can..
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127550
634. hurricanehanna
12:54 AM GMT on May 17, 2009
Evening Storm - long time no see! Congrats on the engagement. Glad to see you back with us for the H-season
Member Since: September 5, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 3481
633. Ossqss
12:53 AM GMT on May 17, 2009
Side note for you Redoubt watchers, there has been over 30 quakes of significance in the area near Kodiak Island Alaska (just down plate from Redoubt) in the last 24hrs. Something is going on up there. The Texas quake earlier spurred my interest.

Hopefully, tomorrow we will have some substantial visible support for the models on the area moving towards the gulf. L8R

Link
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632. RMM34667
12:52 AM GMT on May 17, 2009
Quoting stormhank:
this thing may do a track like fay..which would give all of florida beneficial rains


yeah all of FL except tampa bay. we got next to nothing from fay!
Member Since: September 7, 2006 Posts: 5 Comments: 912
631. Tazmanian
12:50 AM GMT on May 17, 2009
Quoting WeatherStudent:



Oohhh and it you aren't? We'll still lova ya.



ok JFV
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 114720
630. stormhank
12:50 AM GMT on May 17, 2009
this thing may do a track like fay..which would give all of florida beneficial rains
Member Since: September 8, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 1385
629. RMM34667
12:49 AM GMT on May 17, 2009
609. Stormchaser2007 12:41 AM GMT on May 17, 2009
GFS 84 hour

hope that goes a tiny bit south.. for it's own good tampa needs to put that shield down.
Member Since: September 7, 2006 Posts: 5 Comments: 912
627. severstorm
12:48 AM GMT on May 17, 2009
Everything is great hear. Could use some of the wet stuff bone dry. Yep I'll be watching and enjoying all the fun on the blog.
Member Since: November 25, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 956
626. Tazmanian
12:48 AM GMT on May 17, 2009
Quoting kmanislander:
Gotta run, time to throw a couple of rib eyes on the smoker grill !

back later




how do you like them cook???
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 114720
625. IKE
12:48 AM GMT on May 17, 2009
Quoting kmanislander:
Gotta run, time to throw a couple of rib eyes on the smoker grill !

back later


Dang that's sound good. I'll be there in about 30 minutes.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
624. Patrap
12:48 AM GMT on May 17, 2009
I like mine Med-rare Kman.
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623. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
12:47 AM GMT on May 17, 2009
Quoting kmanislander:
Pressure 1012.4 and rising under clear skies with no wind.

All the heavy weather off to the East of Grand Cayman
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 169 Comments: 53296
622. Tazmanian
12:47 AM GMT on May 17, 2009
and i think there will be a 2% ch of 91L
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 114720
621. kmanislander
12:47 AM GMT on May 17, 2009
Gotta run, time to throw a couple of rib eyes on the smoker grill !

back later
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15725
620. melwerle
12:46 AM GMT on May 17, 2009
Can someone give me the cliff notes/spark notes of what is going on - I need to go back for the whole 13 pages to read up. Condensed version.
Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 12 Comments: 1837
619. Tazmanian
12:46 AM GMT on May 17, 2009
i think will have 90L by the end of the weekend am 100% sure of it
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618. Patrap
12:46 AM GMT on May 17, 2009
-- EMC Cyclogenesis Tracking Page --

Model Cycle: 2009051618


U.S. East Coast (last 4 cycles, lat/lon)

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127550
616. kmanislander
12:45 AM GMT on May 17, 2009
Quoting severstorm:
Hi Kman How ya doing?


Doing great and hope the same is true for you.

Looks like an early season test for the models on tap
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15725
615. Cavin Rawlins
12:45 AM GMT on May 17, 2009
Not much under the bands of thunderstorms but a few knots higher the surrounding trades.

Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
614. stormhank
12:45 AM GMT on May 17, 2009
i saw the 18z gfs taking it toward mobile area? and euro model too? I guess its too soon to say being it hasnt formed yet
Member Since: September 8, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 1385
613. Drakoen
12:45 AM GMT on May 17, 2009
Quoting kmanislander:
Hi there Drak

Looking more and more interesting all the time. If shear eases off another 15 mph in the NW Caribbean I think we would see convection really build and hold. Right now the shear is cutting across from the W and keeping the convection off to the E of where the axis seems to be establishing itself.


We'll probably see some better consolidation tomorrow as shear decreases some more according to the latest GFS run.
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 29887
612. Drakoen
12:43 AM GMT on May 17, 2009
Quoting stormhank:
Hi Drak, IKE, Storm W!! whats your latest thinking on system models r developing and potential track // impacts? i live up in fla panhandle area do u think we'll get soem rain from it?? thanks as always for any input


I'm thinking more along the lines of the 18z runs since the system is being instigated further south and east than the previous runs. It should move north as the prefrontal trough advects southward. This should allow the system to come over or adjacent to South Florida before entering the GOM. Intensification here is questionable as the system becomes better stacked with a large-scale 500mb low and a negatively tilted upper trough axis. Either way we're looking at totals between 3-5 inches.
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 29887
611. kmanislander
12:43 AM GMT on May 17, 2009
Hi there Drak

Looking more and more interesting all the time. If shear eases off another 15 mph in the NW Caribbean I think we would see convection really build and hold. Right now the shear is cutting across from the W and keeping the convection off to the E of where the axis seems to be establishing itself.
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15725
610. severstorm
12:42 AM GMT on May 17, 2009
Hi Kman How ya doing?
Member Since: November 25, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 956
609. Stormchaser2007
12:41 AM GMT on May 17, 2009
GFS 84 hours:



NAM 84hours:
Member Since: June 9, 2007 Posts: 4 Comments: 15776
608. IKE
12:41 AM GMT on May 17, 2009
Quoting stormhank:
Hi Drak, IKE, Storm W!! whats your latest thinking on system models r developing and potential track // impacts? i live up in fla panhandle area do u think we'll get soem rain from it?? thanks as always for any input


I say yes.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
607. melwerle
12:41 AM GMT on May 17, 2009
ok - i have to say WOOO HOOOOO to getting my java reinstalled after having my computer crash. I couldn't check out ANY of my weather links because - well - i don't know - i couldn't figure it out. Just said I couldn't do it. Daughter's b/f came over, installed java and i'm good to go! Now I feel like I can check out everything again with you guys...thank GOD.

Member Since: June 28, 2006 Posts: 12 Comments: 1837
606. IKE
12:40 AM GMT on May 17, 2009
Kingston, JM (Airport)
Updated: 30 min 28 sec ago
Light Thunderstorms and Rain
79 °F
Light Thunderstorm Rain
Humidity: 78%
Dew Point: 72 °F
Wind: 30 mph from the ESE
Pressure: 29.89 in (Rising)

Visibility: 6.2 miles
UV: 0 out of 16
Clouds:
Mostly Cloudy 1600 ft
Scattered Clouds 2000 ft
Mostly Cloudy 3000 ft
(Above Ground Level)
Elevation: 30 ft
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
605. Patrap
12:40 AM GMT on May 17, 2009

SREF Ensemble

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127550
603. stormhank
12:40 AM GMT on May 17, 2009
Hi Drak, IKE, Storm W!! whats your latest thinking on system models r developing and potential track // impacts? i live up in fla panhandle area do u think we'll get soem rain from it?? thanks as always for any input
Member Since: September 8, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 1385
602. WPBHurricane05
12:40 AM GMT on May 17, 2009
Hurricane Dust.

Latest SAL image- Link
Member Since: July 31, 2006 Posts: 56 Comments: 8112
601. kmanislander
12:40 AM GMT on May 17, 2009
Pressure 1012.4 and rising under clear skies with no wind.

All the heavy weather off to the East of Grand Cayman
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15725
i think the Aircraft Reconnaissance sould be on stan bye
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 114720
599. IKE
Quoting Drakoen:


Yea. There's a well-defined mid level rotation.


If I'm not mistaken that's the same circulation that was tracking across eastern Cuba earlier this week.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
-- EMC Cyclogenesis Tracking Page --

Model Cycle: 2009051618


NCEP Ensemble


Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127550
No show here. Just a question. What a waste of corn.
Member Since: June 9, 2007 Posts: 4 Comments: 15776
Quoting kmanislander:
I just had some pop corn watching Star Trek so where does that leave me LMAO


I had popcorn earlier today...
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 29887
Quoting kmanislander:
I just had some pop corn watching Star Trek so where does that leave me LMAO


Better get some more.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting IKE:


I see it too. Nice satellite.


Yea. There's a well-defined mid level rotation.
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 29887
Quoting IKE:
You see, that's the "game"....him not admitting it so folks will keep asking him. Just accept it.

To everyone here...it's WeatherStudentJFV.


LOL....
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I just had some pop corn watching Star Trek so where does that leave me LMAO
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15725
IR IMAGE

WV IMAGE
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 169 Comments: 53296
Quoting Stormchaser2007:


Im sorry but that sounded exactly like something JFV would say.


LOL. Here we go again
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 29887
589. IKE
You see, that's the "game"....him not admitting it so folks will keep asking him. Just accept it.

To everyone here...it's WeatherStudentJFV.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
Quoting Weather456:
Here we go. Gotta get the butter for this popcorn.



am with you
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 114720

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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.